the evolution (not yet complete) of the vegetable garden:
Looking forward to improving this every year!
the evolution (not yet complete) of the vegetable garden:
Looking forward to improving this every year!
We moved to the Garden In The Woods in 2009, and it’s take this long to clear, build, dig, mulch and plant the vegetable garden I planned on. It’s not quite complete, but the end is in sight!
A variety of things slowed us down: a broken ankle, health issues, three school age children, and that pesky job that pay for all the lovely plants. The Chief of Implementation has had to help handle all those things AND work too.
Last fall, the Chief of Implementation built an additional 4 raised beds built for a total of 8 central beds. This spring, I dug those beds over with my new Miraculous Broadfork from Meadow Creature, and mulched them heavily. The 6 previously unplanted beds were set up for sheet composting with about a foot of garden debris and a sheet of cardboard under 8 to 12 inches of mulch. Four of these were seeded with clover as a green mulch to prepare for warm season vegetables.
We also worked together to create 8 side beds. Four are finished and planted; the other four will need to be raised beds, which the Chief of Implementation will build when the weather cools down. These side beds contain reseeding or perennial plants and are NOT rotated.
|Rotating Bed A||Bed 2
Cascadia Sugar Snap Peas – short variety, devoured by deer
Super Sugar Snap Peas – tall variety, devoured by deer
|Rotating Bed B||Bed 3
Clover – poor germination and growth; add inoculant next time
|Rotating Bed C||Bed 4
Tyfon Holland greens
Barefoot Farmer kale
Harris Model parsnips
Large Prague? celeriac
Neon calendula – direct seeded
Rossia, Carioca & Soprano Batavian lettuce
|Rotating Bed D||
|Stationary Bed A||Spring Planting
Chervil (Anthriscus cerefolium)
Chinese Temple Bells (Moricandia arvensis)
|Stationary Bed B||Spring Planting
Ladybird poppy (Papaver commutatum)
Blue Pimpernel (Anagallis monelli)
Borage – direct seeded and started inside
Verbena bonariensis – started inside
|Stationary Bed C||– UNDER CONSTRUCTION –|
|Stationary Bed D||– UNDER CONSTRUCTION –|
|Stationary Bed E||Spring Planting
Miner’s Lettuce (Claytonia perfoliata)
Cilantro – reseeded late spring & midsummer
Crimson Forest bunching onion – no survivors
Nigella bucharica – no survivors
|Stationary Bed F||Spring Planting
Black Swan poppy (Papaver lacinatum)
Linaria maroccana ‘Licilia Peach’
Ambrosia (Chenopodium botrys) – no survivors
|Stationary Bed G||– UNDER CONSTRUCTION –|
|Stationary Bed H||– UNDER CONSTRUCTION –|
Bin 1 (on the right) contains “brown” stuff — high carbon material to balance the composition of the pile. We’ll stockpile leaves in the fall here and add any leftover straw too.
Bin 2 (second from the right) contains the current year’s compost. After every two inch layer of food scraps and garden waste are added, we’ll add a six inch layer of brown stuff. Food scraps and garden waste are considered “green” compost materials that are high in nitrogen.
Bin 3 (second from the left) contains the previous year’s compost. Once a year, we’ll turn Bin 2 over into Bin 3 and restart in Bin 2.
Bin 4 (on the left) contains compost from two years ago, which is ready to use. Once a year, before turning Bin 2 over into Bin 3, we’ll turn Bin 3 over into Bin 4.
Here’s a picture of how it looks now. The trash can is full of wood chips and leaves which are brown material from our old compost setup. The orange wheel barrow contains the last of our old compost heap ready to be added.
No glamorous pictures in this post, but I’m VERY excited about this setup. Our old composter was overflowing and smelly because we weren’t careful about adding brown stuff to it. This should be a much better setup. This was inspired by the Urban Farm Handbook Challenge for February. I’m late, but still game!
May your compost heat quickly, rot odorlessly and enrich your life.
At this point, I’m actually not too far behind in gardening. The Chief of Implementation has been tremendously helpful along with Cricketwerks and her significant other. We started the vegetable garden last year with the first two beds which were planted with tomatoes. The deer were very grateful, but we harvested zilch. THIS year, we’ll be fencing the garden as soon as possible after the other six beds are built. Since they get planted at different times, we can spread the construction out.
Last year’s tomato beds are this year’s legume beds and I’m hoping to plant peas this weekend and transplant perennial green onions. I’ll add some vermiculite to the beds before we plant and mulch afterward. I’ve been reading that vermiculite is a good permanent amendment to improve drainage and the soil here is heavy clay. Since this is the legume bed and it was thoroughly amended last year with compost and thoroughly mulched with shredded wood, I won’t add any fertilizer. I’ve missed the first two planned plantings for this year, but planting outside during March is always a gamble, so I’m not too stressed. I’m grateful to get ANY spring gardening done with a broken ankle.
The Chief of implementation has built the next pair of beds which will be planted with greens this year. This weekend we’ll amend them with a couple of wheelbarrows of compost each and also with vermiculite. I’ll plant out a few seedlings and direct seed a wide variety of cool season and long season greens.
Before mid May, he’ll build a pair for tomatoes and another pair for squash. In addition to compost and vermiculite, we’ll amend those with homemade fertilizer. We’ll also fence the whole bed with 7′ tall deer netting hoping to cut down on their depredations.
Here’s a diagram of the plan for this year.
The entire garden is eight raised beds 8′ x 4′. There’s a tree stump in the middle of the second row that’s not shown which probably cuts four to six square feet out of the bed. I plant each bed with one or more botanical families and rotate each year so the same family is in the same bed every four years.
For more details, check out the Vegetable Garden Journal page. It includes an overview of the location, snapshots of the garden so far and links to detailed information on each of the beds including specific varieties I’m planting. this year.
Here’s hoping for good harvests for everyone!
When my oldest daughter was about two years old, she would stand, waiting for us to take her on an adventure, tap her toe, and say, “I’m waiting patiently.” That’s how I feel about Spring these days. Winter, such as it has been, has been mostly warmer than usual, but coldest of all the last few weeks, with several episodes of spitting snow. Low temps the last week or so have been at or below freezing.
Several other gardeners have mentioned bulbs blooming much earlier than usual, but I think Spring for me will be only a couple of weeks early. The snowdrops came up last week, two or three weeks earlier than usual and are holding very well, perhaps because the weather has been so cool.
The daffodils are stretching up their buds ever so slo-o-w-ly, with not a hint of color yet. As cold as the nights are, I don’t blame them for huddling under the ground.
I have had time for an absolute flurry of seed planting. My winter sown milk jug count is up to 53 jugs, although three are from last year and may be hopeless cases and four contain recently pricked out babies from last year. This year for winter sowing, I focused mostly on seeds that definitely need a cold period to germinate or hardy annuals that I want to plant out as soon as I reasonably can.
I consciously tried to use less seed after I realized that I have NEVER looked at a pot of seedlings and thought, “Gee, I should have sown that seed more densely.” I sprayed water sparingly rather than submerging because last years jugs stayed far wetter than needed.
I spent an hour or so yesterday pricking out the year old, half inch tall wintergreen seedlings (Gaultheria procumbens ‘Very Berry’.) I didn’t anticipate this much success; there are between 75 and 100 seedlings spread out among four milk jug or pretzel containers. The other tiny babies are Ramonda myconii, a hardy African violet relative.
I’ll keep them in their milk jug greenhouses until they’re big enough to set out, perhaps Fall 2012, perhaps later. I’ll also have to provide some protection for the wintergreen, since SOMEONE has devoured my current wintergreen plant for the second year in a row.
I also planted pepper seeds and tomatoes for containers to plant out in early to mid May, along with a flat of greens to plant out in early March. Hopefully the Chief of Implementation and I can work out lights for the seedlings before they become seedlings! Since I was making a mess anyway, I potted up Pineapple sage (Salvia elegans) and Peppermint Geranium (Pelargonium tomentosum) cuttings that have been slowly rooting for a couple of months. Those are two of my favorite scented plants, and I’m willing to baby them through winter indoors to enjoy big happy plants each summer. Everyone is installed on the new plant shelf assembled by the Chief of Implementation.
When the Nun’s Orchid finishes blooming, I’ll section and pot up the bloom stems hoping to make more babies.
May all your gardens be fruitful, and may today in particular be filled with love!
In the beginning, there was a thistle sock for the finches,
and sunflower seed for the cardinals and chickadees and nuthatches and their friends,
and suet for the woodpeckers, all hung on a double hook on the deck.
And the hungry birds came and ate, through bright spring and summer and damp and dreary winter and autumn. The birds were happy and well fed and grateful,
especially when it snowed.
The Gardener, her Chief of Implementation and their offspring admired the birds and filled the feeders and took many pictures. But the suet disappeared faster than it could be replaced and so did the sunflower seeds, for there was a snake in the garden.
The snake wasn’t any problem, at all, but it’s a great picture. There was a figurative snake — SOMEONE who gobbled up sunflower seeds and suet, someone with fur and not feathers or scales.
(I think that squirrel is exhausted from stealing seeds all summer long.) So the Gardener in the Woods plotted to foil the thieves. She added hot pepper flakes to the sunflower seeds, but the thieves were undeterred.
She bought hot pepper suet, and won her first battle.
She bought a squirrel proof feeder and the thieves tore at until the seed flowed out like water.
She bought a squirrel baffle, but the squirrels weren’t.
She bought a squirrel feeder, and the squirrels ate that along with the sunflowers and suet.
While the squirrels were on the deck during the second year of battle, they discovered the tomato plants in window boxes on the deck and ate all the tomatoes too, so the Gardener in the Woods had no fresh, home grown tomatoes in 2011.
This wasn’t all the trouble in the paradise that is the Garden in the Woods. There was someone else, someone who thought birds were delicious.
So the Gardener in the Woods conceived a grand device after consulting her wizard, who is called Internet Research.
For those of you who are laughing, this is a MUCH BETTER picture than the original sketch. The original sketch and explanation were, fortunately, understandable to the Chief of Implementation. His comment was, “I think you’ll see Ninja Squirrels executing bird seed missions.”
So the Gardener in the Woods batted her eyelashes, and the Chief of Implementation climbed ladders and drilled holes and screwed in hooks and bought confusing hardware, and looked strong and muscular and handsome doing it all. There were several revisions to the design of the grand marvelous device. First the Gardener realized the number of bottles between feeders needed to be two for esthetic reasons. Then the Gardener realized the plan did not take into consideration the logistics of refilling feeders 20 or 30 feet above the ground. After extensive revision, the final device was thus:
And the Gardener rested from her labors.
Photo credits for all wildlife pictures go to my daughter who posts at http://cricketwerks.tumblr.com/